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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 05:39 PM
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Solar Trade Dispute: What Is the U.S. Thinking?
Solar Trade Dispute: What Is the U.S. Thinking?
By David Toke
December 7, 2011

As if it was not bad enough that European states are clawing back on the solar feed-in tariff subsidy rates, the U.S. is moving towards artificially increasing prices of solar panels by putting taxes on imported solar PV panels. I will explain that even more starkly: While Europe is still subsidizing solar PV panels; the U.S. is going to tax them!

The U.S. International Trade Commission has, according to, "unanimously determined that Chinese solar panel and cell imports are harming the American solar manufacturing industry." This, it seems, is a precursor of import duties being levied on solar panels imported from China. To add an ironic twist, some U.S.-based solar companies themselves are promoting this policy. They argue that China is "dumping" lots of solar panels on the U.S. market and putting them out of business.

Essentially, Chinese manufacturers are selling their panels at cheaper prices. Partly this is a case of the Chinese having the foresight to invest in green industries, and this is also part of a normal business cycle when periodically supply exceeds demand, as opposed to demand exceeding supply, which pushes prices up.

However, if the solar industry is effectively arguing that prices must be increased with protectionism, it is contradicting its ultimate goal to drive down global prices for renewable energy technologies. The U.S. position is also sacrificing solar technology progress for protectionist purposes. This comes at a time when trade policies should be as internationalist as possible to avoid the selfish nationalism of the 1930s which caused much destruction. If the allegedly idealistic renewable energy industries cannot hold the line on this, who can?

As far as I can see ...
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 07:46 PM
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1. It's hard to imagine that environmental laws are as stringent in China as the USA..
As much as I would like to see low, low, low prices on solar cells I'm not opposed to some mild protectionism to help domestic industry produce solar cells in a cleaner manner than they are probably being produced in China.

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kristopher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 08:30 PM
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2. It has little to nothing to do with environmental regulation.
In spite of what Republicans would have us believe, the environmental costs are inconsequential in the overall pricing structure. The big item is $41 billion in low interest loans the government made available that fund the building of new factories. Part of the reason they put the money out there was to clean up the industry by putting older, dirtier operations out of business.

The simple fact is we've been pounding on China to do something about climate change - and they did. Now we are slapping tariffs on them for their trouble.

I know there is are real inequities by the situation but the better solution in the big picture would be to throw as much money at the industry here as China has there. The only real winners here are the entrenched energy interests.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 11:29 AM
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3. If developing countries like China were to manufacture PV and wind...

and then if they were to furthermore pay their working class enough to make our domestic manufacturing competitive, I dispute the claim that these changes would be "inconsequential in the overall pricing structure"
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